NOAA: January Temperature Slightly Above Average for U.S.
February 9, 2009
Temperatures for the contiguous United States last month were slightly above the long-term average, based on records going back to 1895, according to a preliminary analysis by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The average January temperature of 31.2 degrees F was 0.4 degree above the 20th Century average.
U.S. Temperature Highlights
- January temperatures were below average across much of the eastern United States, while the western half of the nation experienced warmer-than-average temperatures.
- California had its sixth warmest January on record. Maine and Michigan had their eighth and ninth coldest January on record, respectively.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was 3.0 percent above average in January.
U.S. Precipitation Highlights
- It was the fifth driest January for the contiguous U.S., based on data going back to 1895. Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma experienced their third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, driest January on record.
- All but 15 states experienced a drier-than-normal January. It was the ninth driest January on record for California, but wetter than normal for North Dakota and Massachusetts.
- At the end of January, 21 percent of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Severe-to-extreme drought conditions continued in the western Carolinas, northeast Georgia, the southern Plains, and parts of California and Hawai’i, with exceptional drought in southern Texas.
- About 23 percent of the contiguous United States had moderately-to-extremely wet conditions at the end of January, according to the Palmer Index. Very-to-extremely moist conditions remained across the central U.S. from Nebraska to North Dakota, and Iowa to Illinois, and in New England.
- A major storm January 26-29 dropped up to 8 inches of snow from eastern Missouri through Ohio, with 12 to 16 inches from southeastern Illinois through central Indiana. At the Indianapolis International Airport, 12.5 inches of snow fell from January 26 - 28, tying as the sixth largest snowstorm for the city.
- The January 26-29 storm also produced a large swath of freezing rain, as much as 1.5 inches in some areas. Total ice accumulations greater than one inch were common along a line in Kentucky, from Paducah to Lexington.
- In northern Arkansas, the winter storm coated trees and wires with as much as two inches of ice. Up to 4.10 inches of precipitation was measured in Fayetteville.
- Heavy rain and higher snow levels caused significant flooding in parts of northwest Oregon. On January 6 and 7, western Washington experienced heavy rain, which triggered record flooding on the Naselle River. Additionally, up to 10 inches of rain fell in parts of the Washington Cascades.
NCDC’s preliminary reports, which assess the current state of the climate, are released soon after the end of each month. These analyses are based on preliminary data, which are subject to revision. Additional quality control is applied to the data when late reports are received several weeks after the end of the month and as increased scientific methods improve NCDC’s processing algorithms.
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